A U.S. Senate subcommittee voted Tuesday to create a $500 million fund solely to repair or replace fragile bridges on major highway corridors.
The fund is one piece in the $54 billion 2014 budget, issued by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development, which is chaired by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.
States would apply for the aid competitively, similar to the TIGER stimulus grants that paid a share of the South Park Bridge and the Mercer Street rebuild. The U.S. goverment already spreads bridge money to state transportation departments, but this new fund effectively shifts more influence to the federal government.
The new fund, called Bridges In Critical Corridors, was inspired by the May 23 collapse of the Skagit River Bridge, which Murray describes as a stern wake-up call to reinvest in aging bridges, particularly along corridors such as I-5 that support commuters, small businesses and large manufacturers. However, the collapse was caused by an overheight truck the Skagit bridge had passed recent inspections and didnt appear on any list of urgent Washington state projects.